Off-site file storage doesn’t suit every organisation. Strange but true: we do sometimes have conversations with potential clients where we say, frankly, that storing files off-site isn’t for them. Some organisations, depending on their needs and their scale, have the ability to store all their files on their own premises efficiently, and a need to do so too. But every organisation should at least give some serious thought to off-site file storage, and here are some reasons why.
Storing files within an office environment is a classic hidden cost. Without a clearly marked invoice to pay every month, you don’t know what you’re paying, and can trick yourself into thinking you’re not paying anything for file storage.
However, you pay rent for the space that files take up in your office. That cost is probably rising too. You pay staff money to search for files when they’re needed – keeping older, irrelevant files around adds to the time they spend searching. You also pay for file storage equipment, such as cabinets. These break, and need to be replaced. What’s more, unless you systematically destroy records that you have no reason to keep, those costs will only grow as your organisation creates more files.
Off-site file storage is simpler. You get an agreed invoice every month for the files that your organisation stores off-site. When you want a file, you send a request through a secure online system, and you get it back. You can track your spending on off-site file storage, where it’s being spent, and who is spending what.
The auditing system that any good off-site file storage provider also helps address a growing issue: data protection. If your business is storing any information on your customers, electronically or on paper, you have a responsibility to keep that safe. Forthcoming EU rules make that responsibility clear.
You also probably have sensitive commercial information in your paper documents. The office is a pretty precarious place for this sensitive data: employees move to competitors, get nosy, or even talk idly without realising that they’re putting information at risk. Unless you have rigorous systems in place to control access to your most-sensitive data, on-site file storage creates real data protection risks.
Off-site file storage is designed to remove those risks. A good file storage facility should have strong external and internal security, including access controls and CCTV. In other words, people shouldn’t access the file storage area without a good reason to be there. The file retrieval system of an off-site file storage provider should also keep a record of individuals requesting access to files.
In the same way that your IT team can stop unauthorised staff from accessing digital information, off-site file storage lets you control access to hard copy files. You can also see when authorised staff members have accessed documents from off-site storage without breaking out a fingerprint kit. This in itself should be a great deterrent against accessing files improperly, and significantly reduce your data protection risk.
Efficiency and ‘Soft’ Benefits
There are a few other benefits to off-site file storage that are trickier to define, but still worth mentioning.
In the process of moving files to off-site storage, you will probably identify items that can be safely destroyed (reducing your risks and storage costs), and identify documents that you thought were long-gone. Storing files off-site will free up space within your premises, allowing you to move teams around or take on new staff without the hassle of moving your offices. Finally, having your files in off-site storage rather than in boxes all over your office makes a far greater impression on visiting clients, potential customers and employees – as well as your current team.
Off-Site File Storage and Smart File Management – an eBook Guide
Document & File Storage has a free eBook designed to help organisations make sense of paper documents, adopt a smart file management system, and prepare files for off-site storage. Written by John McEntagart, an expert with over 10 years of experience in helping companies solve file storage issues, it is an easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide to help you realise the benefits of intelligent records management practices, including off-site file storage.
For a link to download the guide, enter your details in the form below.